After a few months of mixed jobs news, July employment reports released last week demonstrate that New Jersey is still bringing up the rear in the nation’s economic recovery.
The Garden State lost the most jobs – 12,000 – of any state in July, and its unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent: the highest rate in over 35 years (the 9.9 percent rate in April 1977 is the high-water mark). New Jersey still has the fourth highest unemployment rate in the nation; its rate sits one and a half percentage points above the national rate of 8.3 percent.
What’s more, the much-touted job gains of the previous two months have been significantly revised down – from a total of 27,500 to a total of 21,700.
The press release from the Department of Labor and Workforce Development was heavy on spin: the loss was called a “shift” and “positive” long-term trends were emphasized in the headline and the first three paragraphs of the release before getting to the actual data, which tell a much less sunny story about New Jersey’s employment situation.
The administration’s release touted two numbers in particular: the addition of 79,000 private-sector jobs since February 2010 (the recent low point of private sector employment) and the addition of 40,200 total jobs from July 2011 to July 2012.
But consider the data in a different light:
New Jersey – currently with 3,899,600 jobs – has added 63,200 total jobs since September 2010, the recent low point of total employment, both private and public sector. That’s an average of 2,873 jobs a month. In the same period, the state’s population (of non-institutionalized persons 16 and older) increased by 73,397, an average of 3,670 a month.
In other words, while New Jersey has been adding some jobs, the gains haven’t been enough to keep up with population growth.
Meanwhile, we still have a tall ladder to climb in order to return to pre-Recession employment levels of 4 million-plus.
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